|Jonathan Vilma could play on the weakside position for the Saints, coach Sean Payton said. (US Presswire)|
But coach Sean Payton says he can envision Vilma (6-1, 230) playing weakside linebacker, with Curtis Lofton (6-0, 241) staying inside.
"Yeah, I don't think anyone wants to place him over that guard bubble and have to take on that block," Payton said on Sirius/XM NFL Radio. "And I think he's a guy that runs to the ball and has great vision, very instinctual football player. I think you take some of that away if all of a sudden he's playing over an uncovered guard and now his size becomes an issue.
"A lot of things may concern you with a player change. So, he'll play over on that weakside position and that will be very similar to what he did this past year. Curtis Lofton, who's a little heavier, will play on that strong, inside-Mike position. So I think that part of it for those two guys transition pretty well."
Turning 31 in April, Vilma is set to make $4.8 million in base salary and count $8.6 million against the cap. There's no way the Saints are paying that to keep him. Payton did not address the financial aspect in the interview.
Payton said he spoke to Vilma “about certain players and where they line up the first day of OTAs. And then you take what you have on the roster and you begin to put them into these spots and then you tweak and you make adjustments and you look to make additions.
"I think the way that we're going to run this defense and the type of 3-4 that we're running will be such that you saw in Dallas or Houston. There will be some under defensive principles to it. Some reduction, which means that the left guard or weak guard for the offense will be covered at times, and I think that will help a guy like Jon Vilma as opposed to the traditional two-gap 3-4 front that many Giants fans knew back when Bill Parcells was there.”
Switching to the 3-4, as the Saints and Eagles intend, isn't a simple matter.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Vilma made 37 tackles in a season shortened by knee surgery and dominated by bounty-related headlines. In December, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated Vilma's one-year suspension.
Skeptics will note Vilma wasn't nearly as effective after the Jets switched to a 3-4, prompting his trade to New Orleans in 2008.
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